The prospect of huge amounts of shale gas sitting beneath British soil has lead to French oil and gas company Total considering an investment of at least £12.7m in the UK’s shale gas industry.
According to estimates by the British Geological Survey there is potentially 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas present in the northern region of England. Indeed, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) reported in December that more than half of the UK is suitable for fracking.
Fracking is the highly controversial process of extracting shale gas by drilling deep into the ground and injecting a high pressured mix of water, sand and chemicals into the drill hole in order to fracture rocks and release the gas or oil stored inside.
Total’s move comes at a pivotal time, as the UK government attempts to encourage local authorities to allow drilling for shale gas. The controversy surrounding fracking comes from environmentalists’ fears that the technique can cause earth tremors, water contamination and environmental damage.
The Government’s argument for the process is that it will create jobs and reduce energy bills, citing success in the US domestic energy industry, where fracking has brought about lower gas prices. There is still a great possibility the government will welcome fracking because they believe shale gas is a major component of providing the UK’s future energy needs.
Industry experts expect other oil and gas companies to follow Total and enter into the UK’s shale gas market. If Britain extracts 10% of its estimated gas reserves it can supply the entire country for 50 years.
Do you support plans to allow fracking in the UK? What advantages or disadvantages do you think it would bring?